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Issac Gross eager for Rebels’ SEC road test at Arkansas

Issac Gross eager for Rebels’ SEC road test at Arkansas

OXFORD, Miss. – While recovering last season from a neck injury, Issac Gross watched from the sidelines as Ole Miss and Arkansas traded scores. Following the Rebels’ overtime loss, Gross remained patient, knowing another opportunity to play the Razorbacks would present itself.

Now, it’s here.

Anytime you take a loss, there’s always a mark. Yes, it was a bitter taste that we lost to them. But the way we go on about it, like any other great team, is we leave it in the back of our heads until we meet them again next year. Now, we get to fix it.

Ole Miss defensive tackle Issac Gross

Gross remembered what it was like to see Arkansas’ quarterback Brandon Allen convert on the two-point conversion that sealed the Rebels’ fate. And although he recalled a locker room filled with disappointment and shock, as the loss took with it the best chance for the Rebels to play for the Southeastern Conference Championship, Gross explained how he and his Ole Miss teammates moved forward.

The way our coaches led us and the way our leaders led us, we swallowed it. It happened. We woke up Sunday morning, and watched it. It’s painful. Then we went out on Sunday and worked out and ran through the plays we messed up on and put it in the past.

Issac Gross on the Rebels’ 2015 loss to Arkansas

First SEC road game of the season

Issac Gross

Because of an injury that kept him out last season, the last time DT Issac Gross faced Arkansas was in 2014 in Fayetteville. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

The senior defensive tackle hopes his leadership this week helped with the team’s preparation for its first SEC road game of the season.

No. 12 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC) hasn’t been on the road since September 5 when it played in a neutral site game against Florida State to kick off the 2016 season.

Gross’ advice to his teammates in practice this week was simple: “When we are out here, let’s handle business.”

Since the Rebels’ season-opener, they have played four straight games inside the newly renovated Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. But playing in an SEC road game is something Gross definitely gets excited about.

No. 22 Arkansas (4-2, 0-2) is 3-1 at home in Fayetteville this season.

“It’s always good to play at home,” Gross said with a smile while rubbing the top of his new haircut. “I don’t know about the other guys, but I like to go into somebody else’s home and kick butt.”

Gross knows what’s like to play in a hostile environment against a conference foe as he has been in tough road contests against Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, Texas, Mississippi State, LSU and Georgia, to name a few. So with more-than-enough experience in big games, what does the Batesville, Mississippi native tell his teammates who have not played in an SEC Western Division road game?

I just tell them to lock in because when we come in here, we have a job to do. When we are at home, your aunties and girlfriends are going to be behind you. You just have to lock in. This is more important. This is what we train all week for; this is what we practice all week for.

Gross has played in all five of the Rebels’ games this season and tallied 12 tackles, six of which were solo, and one quarterback hurry. He entered the 2016 season tied for 10th in school history and among the active SEC leaders with 27.5 career tackles for loss.

Game info: 

Ole Miss and Arkansas kick off at 6:00 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, October 15, in Fayetteville. The game will be televised on ESPN.

(Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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